24 June 2008

Between the Devil And the Deep Blue Sea

Lies Fort Lauderdale.

Maybe that's why it is so hot!

There’s a lovely little teapot tempest here because of the convention center where my conference is being held. It happens to be within the ‘perimeter’ of the Port of Fort Lauderdale and that means (in these hyper security conscious times) that we can be asked to show photo ID to enter, a condition not present when the convention was booked a few years ago.

A few of my co-religionists are in a state of dread and dudgeon about it, not without reason, but to my mind somewhat more pompously than righteously. What it means is that some have conscientiously refused to attend, and my minister’s association is meeting far away to remove the inferable taint of collusion.

How much should one do in response to injustice? Morally, anything less than everything is questionable. Realistically, almost nothing makes a difference. The fence that protects the convention center is a federal act, unbidden by the people here. Withdrawing the convention would not harm the federal authorities at all. They would not care if they even noticed. It would deprive the businesses here of business. As it is, attendance is markedly lower, though that may reflect some reluctance to go to south Florida in the summer. How often do our attempts to flog the wicked end up raising welts only on bystanders?

The key speaker this morning led us through an analysis of the two stories we inherit from the Bible – liberation from Egypt and purity in the temple. He tells us that the latter is what we live by, creating our society based on wealth, power, and privilege. The other is about faithfulness, justice and righteousness. Why do we choose the former and not the latter?

I do not know, but he also said protesting and militating are not the answer. That, ironically, is part of the system. To choose the other narrative is to choose not to take part in some way. I think he’s right. I also think it is deeply difficult to know exactly how. But since when was the spiritual life easy?

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